At the summons of Running Elk, all the people in the camp had assembled for the feast, around a big fire--twenty-five or thirty Utes, maybe. Travis asked Half-Moon Shadow, "Many people leave?"
"Yes," the man replied, gravely. "Many leave. Go setting sun. Horse soldiers say 'Go setting sun, over mountains. Land for you'."
Travis shook his head, and took Maggie's hand. "Dammit," he said. "Makes me ashamed to call myself American. We fought the war so that people could be equal, and here we are treatin' these folks just as bad as the rebs treated their slaves."
Maggie felt so sad that she just had to do something to lighten the mood. First she thought she might ask whether these Indians had been the ones to burn down Fort Pueblo. Then she worried that if she asked that, Travis might think it disrespectful. Then she wondered if he would spank her if she said something disrespectful--and then she almost said it, because Travis hadn't spanked her in more than a week, and, well, she kind of wanted to feel his belt on her backside, telling her that he wouldn't tolerate any nonsense or disrespectful talk from his betrothed.
That made her think along other lines, and got her more and more curious, until, finally, she blurted out, to Half-Moon Shadow, "Do you spank your women?"
Travis guffawed at that. "Maggie!" he said. "What kind of a question is that?"
She turned to him, grinning, "The kind you'll spank me for, maybe?"
Half-Moon Shadow, his brow furrowed in puzzlement, looked from Travis to Maggie. "Spank?" he said, as if he wasn't sure he had got the pronunciation right.
Travis had a huge smile on his own face now. "Here," he said to Half-Moon Shadow, "I'll show you."
"What?" Maggie exclaimed.
"Did you ask for this, or did you not ask for this, Maggie Curtin? I'm responsible for your behavior now that we're gettin' hitched. Get your sweet backside over my knee, and count yourself lucky that I'm not gonna take down your britches in front of these nice folks and whip you with my belt."